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Nebraska Softball Loses Home Opener 7-1 to Wichita State

by Mar 1, 2024Uncategorized

Nebraska Softball Loses Home Opener 7-1 to Wichita State

Nebraska softball lost its home opener on Friday, falling 7-1 to Wichita State.

The Huskers ended the Shockers’ season a year ago in NCAA Regionals, but lost to them three other times in 2023. Wichita State is certainly a quality program, and Nebraska couldn’t overcome that challenge.

Here are three takeaways from the contest:

Chloe Barber Shuts Down Huskers 

Wichita State true freshman Chloe Barber has gotten her career off to a hot start.

She came into the night as the nation’s clear leader in strikeouts per seven innings at 14.3. She already had two complete game wins to her name. One came in a 3-1 triumph over a ranked Arkansas team, the other featuring a school-record 16 strikeouts against Illinois State.

In some ways, Nebraska did better against Barber than other opponents. She allowed a season-high six hits and struck out seven batters in seven innings — a much lower rate than what she’s used to. The Huskers got off to a strong start, with Billie Andrews reaching via hit-by-pitch to start the bottom of the first and scoring on a Peyton Cody RBI double.

After that, Barber settled in, holding the home team scoreless through the rest of the contest. Across the final four innings, she surrendered one hit and just two other baserunners.

“She had good speed and good movement,” Andrews said postgame. “Hard to beat any pitcher with good speed and good movement but we attacked the zone, unfortunately she beat us tonight.”

Andrews did reach base in three of her four plate appearances, but it was a rough overall offensive night for the team. Head coach Rhonda Revelle also pointed out that the team made several baserunning mistakes that they need to correct. The game ended on an Andrews walk as Alina Felix was picked off running back to third base.

Home Opener Attendance

The buzz for Nebraska’s home opener and season as a whole had seemingly dropped a bit after star player Jordy Bahl’s season-ending ACL injury.

Still, there was a strong turnout for the game, with enough fans to take advantage of the additional seating set up in the offseason. There were 1,213 recorded in attendance, a mark that is hundreds higher than season openers of recent years and would’ve been the second-highest attendance figure last season.

That being said, the number the program seems to be using officially is 2,319 — which is the number of tickets sold for the contest. That number sets the program record for single-game attendance, just beating out a 2016 matchup with Michigan.

Context should be included in using the bigger number, given the discrepancy. Regardless, it was a great crowd for March 1, and likely evidence that there will be increased fan support at Bowlin Stadium even without Bahl playing.

Huskers Look to Respond

The rest of the weekend doesn’t get any less challenging for Nebraska, as it plays two games tomorrow afternoon. The first comes against Wichita State again, followed by a meeting with No. 13 Missouri. It’ll play the Tigers again on Sunday, too.

The Huskers are 8-7 against a tough nonconference schedule so far, and have the chance to earn some quality wins.

There are improvements to be made in multiple areas for that to happen. Nebraska’s offense will have to produce more, but the pitching will also look to hold the opponent to less than the seven runs it allowed tonight. Freshman Caitlin Olensky did well until the back-to-back hits in the fourth inning tied the game. Kaylin Kinney entered and struggled to quiet the Shockers after that, allowing them to take the lead before Olensky came back in and still couldn’t find her groove in the circle.

“We’re gonna keep working. I love this group,” Revelle said. “They had a great spirit all night long, and that was really the message after, is that it’s going to take everybody, we’re all going to have to stretch, we’re all going to grow together and we’re going to play for the long game with this team.”

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